The Big Game is this Sunday, and you’re going to look like a fool if you don’t already have a completely pimped-out living room in which to absorb it fully. If you can’t see the grizzled mug of Drew Brees, you’re not really seeing the game. Here’s the gadgets you need to optimize your experience.
Get a flat panel display
Let’s just agree right now that no matter what size your apartment is, you’re going to need at least a 50” display. According to this screen viewing distance calculator, you can still sit within 6.8 feet of a 50” screen without losing picture quality. That being said, here are three of the best high-end, middle-of-the-road, and bargain flat panels on the market currently.
The quickest, easiest way to save money on a flat panel television is to buy one that only displays 720p resolution as opposed to 1080p. This is not as big a deal as manufacturers/sales people would have you believe. As of now, there are few broadcasts even made in 1080p, and this year’s Super Bowl certainly isn’t going to be. Most “HD” broadcasts are only 720p to begin with, while 1080p resolution is reserved for Bluray discs, select HD pay per views, and select video games. Anyway, if you’re going to buy a 720 set, the LG50PQ30 is a good bet. It’s got a faster refresh rate than most LCD TV’s, but mostly, it’s just hard to scoff at a 50” display for as low as $700. [Buy it]
Panasonic G10 Series
The Panasonic G10 Series, specifically the TC-P50G10, is an excellent choice if you’re willing to spend a little more for much better picture quality, but you don’t have to Visa Black card just yet. It’s a plasma set which gives it incomparably higher refresh rate and deeper blacks than its LED/LCD brothers, and it also comes with all the bells and whistles you’ll need to truly enjoy The Big Game. Things like THX mode, VieraCast (hybridized internet access), and, of course, 1080p resolution. The 50” is going to cost you a little over a grande, but it’s well worth that. [Buy it]
Part of Samsung’s new line of LED displays, the Samsung UN55B5800 is the 55” version of this 8500 line, and is what CNET describes as one of the best performing HD televisions of all time. It’s a meager 1.6 inches deep, but manages to deliver astonishing picture quality because, unlike some LED sets that have the lighting configured around the edge of the set, the 8500 series has them spread across the screen real estate. This allows each to light or dim locally which results in much better picture quality. It’s pricy, though, with the 55” model costing in the neighborhood of $3,500. [Buy it]
This is the Cadillac of HD projectors, and if price truly is no object, this professional-level projector will deliver the Super Bowl at any size you can muster in your home. This is on a par with the projectors used in actual theater. It weighs almost 50 pounds, has a native resolution of 1080p, and costs more than a lot of used cars. If you’ve got the cheddar, though, there is no finer projector on the market. [Buy it]
Get some surround sound
You probably shouldn’t get a sound bar. But, there are a few, select cases when it’s okay or even advisable. The idea behind them is that they use an complex algorithm to mimic surround sound by projecting sound out and bouncing it around the room appropriately. The nuances of any given room, of course, tend to mitigate the efficacy of any sound bar. But, if all you want is better speakers than what comes built into your set, or if you have a particular taste for the austere look of one, monolithic speaker (admittedly pretty cool-looking), then a sound bar might be for you. Don’t get roped into buying the top end Yamaha, as you’d be better off spending those dollars on a traditional system. Rather, you should opt for the more affordable Sony HT CT100. [Buy it]
A HTIAB, or, home theater in a box, is the most popular type of sound system for two reasons. 1. It will provide remarkably better sound (usually 5.1 surround sound) than the speakers in your television. And, 2. it comes all bet set up. It’s the plug-and-play of home theater systems. And, by and large, you’re going to spend around $400 for about the same-sounding system no matter what you get. A good option, in our opinion, is the Samsung HT-BD1250 because it features wireless rear speakers. Sort of. They’re actually wired to a little antenna that looks like your wireless internet hub, but you still avoid speaker cables running across your living room floor. [Buy it]
If you’re willing to spend a little more, and you’re an audiophile that isn’t satisfied with what any comparatively-bargain-priced HTIAB’s, then you’ll want to invest a little more for a traditional surround sound system. Of course, for the truly obsessed, you can always mix-and-match to build your own system. But, for our money, the Aperion Intimus system is more than adequate at about $1,600. It comes in either cherry or black, and comes with 5 speakers. But, the thing you’ll want to pay particular attention to is the mini towers. Each contains two woofers and a tweeter, and their compact size equates to a lot of power for your money. It’s also got a sub with dual 8-inch woofers controllable remotely. [Buy it]